Archie Norman, the British retail executive who led the transformation of the Asda supermarket chain, is to have a key advisory role in Wesfarmers's proposed AUD$22bn (US$17.7bn) acquisition of Australian retail group Coles.

Wesfarmers said Norman would help develop turnaround plans for the Coles businesses, in particular its supermarket operations, and advise on the recruitment of senior executives.

Norman will also chair the board overseeing Coles' food, liquor and convenience businesses after the takeover deal has been completed.

Coles shareholders are due to vote on Wesfarmers' offer on 7 November.

If successful, Wesfarmers has said it plans to spend at least AUD5bn ($4.0bn) on the supermarket giant over the next five years on new store rollouts, increased refurbishments and maintenance.

The deal with Coles Group - which sells apparel and general merchandise through its Kmart and Target chains, and operates in Australia, New Zealand and Asia - would create Australia's largest retailer.

Wesfarmers has said it intends to review options for Kmart, the struggling apparel and general merchandise chain.

However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission yesterday (17 October) ruled out a sale of Kmart to Woolworths, because of an overlap with Woolworths' Big W general merchandise division.